Black cowboys drove cattle, scouted, and mined for gold.
Nat Love, born into slavery in Tennessee in 1854, won a horse in a raffle at the age of fifteen. He rode it from his Texas home to Kansas, in the hope of becoming a cowboy.
He made a name for himself by breaking the wildest horses, and became one of the best cowboys of his time. Love was an expert reader of brands, learned to speak Spanish, and won several roping and shooting contests. Because most of his feats took place in Deadwood, Dakota Territory, he earned the nickname “Deadwood Dick.” He died in 1921.
Bill Pickett (1870-1932) was the most famous of the black rodeo cowboys. Born in Texas, he wrestled steers by using a technique he learned from watching bulldogs round up cattle: He would subdue the animal by biting its tender upper lip, then flip it on its side. He died in 1932 from a horse’s kick to the head.
In 1971, he became the first African American cowboy to be inducted into the National Cowboy Hall of Fame.